Earlier this week I criticized Los Angeles Times health blogger Jeannine Stein for using President Obama’s daughter Malia as a springboard to write about something of interest to most parents in general. Namely, how kids grow in their early teens. I don’t think the media should use the president’s daughters whenever they want to make a point about young girls in general.
I don’t think President Obama should either.
But today he did just that when supporting a decision by his Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to override the FDA’s decision to make Plan B contraception available to females of all ages. According to the Associated Press, “Obama says as a father of two daughters, the government should apply some common sense’ to rules when it comes to over-the-counter medication.”
Obama should refrain from invoking Sasha and Malia in decisions that affect millions of people who are not his daughters for several reasons:
1. Malia and Sasha deserve to live out their lives as privately as possible.
2. Using Sasha and Malia as cover would indicate he’s letting his emotions trump science.
3. It demonstrates that he thinks all families are just like his. Come on, he knows better than that!
That last point is a terrible habit a lot of Americans have, this idea that our own circumstances are by and large most others’ circumstances, too. Which is how you get a one-time opponent of healthcare reform apologizing to the President. Or you get health nut foodies actually opposing laws that would make school lunches healthier. Or stay-at-home parents questioning the devotion of mothers who require daycare for their children. “Our lives work within these various legal/financial/bureaucratic restrictions, why doesn’t yours?”
In case Obama has forgotten, these kinds of barriers create unbearable hardships on exactly the people he hopes to protect. These 10-year-olds and young teens that he’s worried about? A surgical procedure or pregnancy would carry a greater risk than a one-time pill that stops conception in the first place. Especially an affordable pill that a big sister or friend — if not the girl herself — can go pick up at the drugstore.
No, I know, that’s not how it works in the White House. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to grow up under Obama’s roof.